Gallery of prints for sale

Thursday 21 July 2016

Caspar Luyken’s emblem etchings

Caspar Luyken (1672–1708) illustrations from James Basnage’s (et al.), 't Groot waerelds tafereel, waar in de heilige en waereldsche geschiedenissen en veranderingen zedert de schepping des waerelds tot het uiteinde van de Openbaring van Joannes, worden afgemaalt”, published in Amsterdam by Jacob Lindenberg, 1705.

(upper image)  “Unveiling of a world globe”, 1705, etching on laid paper
Size: (sheet) 12.3 x 15.9 cm; (plate) 11.2 x 15.3 cm
Ref: Van Eeghen 3289 (P van Eeghen & J P van der Kellen, 'Het Werk van J en CL', Amsterdam, 2 vols 1905).
The Rijks Museum offers the following description of this print:
“The image of the globe is encased in an ornamental frame with floral motifs and two fishes.”

(lower image) “Faith with Cross and Lion”, 1705, etching on laid paper
Size: (sheet) 12.3 x 16.4 cm; (plate) 11.2 x 14.8 cm
Ref: Van Eeghen 3288
The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“The effigy of the Faith is encased in an ornamental frame with floral motifs and two lions.” (

Condition: superb impressions with small margins in faultless condition.

I am selling this pair of etchings by one of the significant printmakers of the late 17th and early 18th centuries—Caspar Luyken—for the total cost of AU$140 (currently US$104.90/EUR95.33/GBP79.70 at the time of posting these prints) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this pair of etchings rich in symbolism, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

One of the key ingredients of symbolism in early prints is the notion of duality. For instance, trees were invariably shown in a cycle of death and regeneration, so that a dead or broken tree is often juxtaposed beside a young sapling or a regenerating tree. In the case of these prints, I suspect that the inherent symbolism of using pairs of fish and lions is similarly about representing opposing dualities integrally linked together. Sometimes the arrangement of paired creatures can connote the unity of male and female forces. In these prints, however, the notion of duality is expressed by the mirrored symmetrical arrangement and symbolically very different objects that the lions hold and the linked shells that the fish swim towards.

My personal interest in the duality posed by symmetrical arrangements of fish arose years ago when I saw a carving of a pair of fish bound together in the portico vaulting of a cathedral in Paris—it may even have been Notre Dame, but my memory is a bit soft these days. At the time I was very excited about this image as it seemed like an ideal image for a tattoo. (I should mention that I have an assortment of tattoos with the nautical theme of mudflats and rudimentary fish traps.) After doing a spot of research about the Pisces symbol (i.e. two fish bound together but swimming in opposing directions) I was thrilled to find that this symbol was all about the body and the soul tugging at each other in opposition but which are inseparably connected. For me, at my present time of life the idea of a battle between what the spirit wishes to achieve and what the body allows is a meaningful reality.

(My apologies to specialists in medieval symbolism who know the exact meaning and significance of these emblematic prints and I welcome your advice.)

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